Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts says he wanted to include an era-appropriate LSD dream sequence in his '70s-set monster movie but never got to shoot it. Even without a psychedelic head-trip sequence, Warner Bros.' MonsterVerse entry still thundered its way to $168 million at the domestic box office after getting a jump on the summer competition by bowing in early March.
Kong: Skull Island stars Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L. Jackson as members of an expedition to an uncharted South Pacific island, who quickly learn that the mysterious land-mass is populated by a collection of gigantic prehistoric monsters that include the massive 100-foot tall ape (King) Kong. Initially terrified by Kong, the humans soon learn that he is actually their greatest ally as they are attacked by even nastier creatures summoned up from the depths of the earth.
Visually, Kong: Skull Island already owes a lot to Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam War masterpiece Apocalypse Now - and according to director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, the plan at one time was to ramp up the psychedelic Vietnam War-era imagery even more by including an LSD sequence (see the artwork below).
Since it was 'Nam and the 70's I really wanted to do an LSD dream sequence. Things were going to get trippy. Never was able to shoot it tho. pic.twitter.com/ZDpGdsC4nl
— Jordan Vogt-Roberts (@VogtRoberts) September 25, 2017
The initial helicopter encounter with Kong after the expedition passes though the storm that perpetually enshrouds Skull Island is entirely reminiscent of the famous Wagner-scored Air Cavalry assault on the village in Apocalypse Now. The movie also tips its hat, albeit in a humorous way, to Apocalypse Now's crazy Colonel Kurtz via John C. Reilly's character Hank Marlow, who has gone native after being stranded on the island for years. Though Apocalypse Now doesn't contain a literal LSD "dream" sequence, at one point Sam Bottoms' character Lance Johnson drops acid and blisses out while the gun boat drifts through a bizarre battleground where all sense of reality seems to have been shed.
For all its visual call-backs to Apocalypse Now, Kong: Skull Island never achieves the sense of feverish surrealism that characterizes Coppola's masterpiece, but remains completely grounded and tonally straight-forward in the manner of most modern-era popcorn movies. An LSD sequence might have added an extra note of weirdness to the movie, but somewhere along the line someone decided it either didn't make sense to include or was not worth spending extra money on. John C. Reilly's performance remains the most surreal element of a movie that otherwise comes off as slick and well-packaged, but very mainstream entertainment.
Kong: Skull Island ultimately does its job well in setting up future movies in the MonsterVerse franchise. Next up on the assembly line is Godzilla 2 from director Michael Dougherty (who recently went Ron Howard by tweeting a teaser image of the monster from the film's set). After that will come Adam Wingard's Godzilla vs. Kong, which Jordan Vogt-Roberts says will have the same "sensibility" as Kong: Skull Island.
Source: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
- Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) release date: May 31, 2019
- Godzilla vs. Kong (2020) release date: May 22, 2020